ENDANGERED SPECIES

The Ultimate Alpha Volume One

Michael D. Winkle

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How Could a Crude, Hard-Copy, Stapled-Together Fanzine

Cause So Much Trouble?

Endangered Species

A woman named Brandy goes to bed one night only to awaken in the body of a rare Asian snow leopard, her mind having been "downloaded" into the animal as she slept. To add insult to imminent injury, she finds herself in an arena with snake pits, bear-traps, snares, piranha ponds - and hungry rats the size of Dobermans. The masters of the colosseum tell her she must fight the monster rodents with tooth and claw. If she wins, her mind will snap back to her human body. If not . . .

For Chester Monday, Gwen Stone and their fellow college students, publishing OMNIBUS Magazine is a fun way to showcase local talent. Brandy's story "Endangered Species" is a welcome addition to the old-fashioned, Xeroxed-and-stapled fanzine, but her insistence the story is true puzzles them.

Yet people across the country send in similar bizarre stories. A woman encounters werewolves and a were-bear. A man sees a car full of nattily-dressed gentlemen with the heads of collies and German shepherds. A yellowing pulp magazine tells of a hidden civilization that pits people, beasts, monsters and human beings transformed into animals against one another. A group of psychics channel a message from the Cronati, the ancient civilization behind the legends of Atlantis, Lemuria, the Illuminati and the Bermuda Triangle. A New England correspondent discovers that the Roanoke colony was dragged off to the Bermuda Triangle by these self-same Cronati.

And all the authors of these tales swear they are absolutely true.

Worse: The Cronati and their minions are appearing closer and closer to the OMNIBUS offices in Fort Smith, Arkansas. You see, the ancient wizards have hidden from humanity for twelve thousand years, but now an old-school fanzine printed by nerdy college students is revealing them to the world. And they are not pleased.

What can a handful of amateur writers do against the secret rulers of the world? Find out in Endangered Species: The Ultimate Alpha Volume One!

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A novel made of the stories, editorials, letters of comment and essays from a science fiction fanzine, Endangered Species encompasses aspects of fantasy, horror, humor and action-thriller. But why take my word for it? Chester W. Monday, Editor of OMNIBUS, has this to say about Endangered Species:

I had no idea putting together an amateur magazine could become so strenuous. I was doing better than my writers, however. Gwen ended up being chased by a giant raccoon - with a chainsaw:

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"The Poulan motor growled behind us. Lee all but long-jumped down the hall. I paused at the entrance. I had to see.

"The chainsaw paddle vanished as its wielder twisted to ram the door. The half-splintered barrier crashed inwards.

"And reality ceased to have meaning for me. Yes, I’d read 'Endangered Species.' Several times, in fact. Yes, I believed every word of it. But seeing a six-foot-tall raccoon, wearing a muzzle/hockey mask and greasy overalls and hauling around a smoke-spewing black and yellow chainsaw – that was the Nope Express leaving the station for Nopeville, Nope Dakota."

* * * * *

Damon found himself caught up in the 'Possum Apocalypse:

"The horn blared again. Something dropped from the hood to the road. I saw it only in silhouette, but the steam-engine hiss told me it was another opossum.

"I kept to the guardrail to avoid the blinding headlights. Down the road, beyond the Jeep, Randall exploded out of the underbrush. Son of a bitch if there wasn’t a naked-tailed marsupial clinging to his leg.

“'’Possum Apocalypse!' he screamed. He smacked the offending animal with his battery lamp and finally shook it off. I paused to kick away the critter from the Jeep’s hood. Yet another gray ‘possum dropped onto the vehicle’s roof from the clawlike branches of a cottonwood.

“'When you’re right, you’re right!' I cried."

Possum Apocalypse

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Brandy woke up one fine spring morning to discover she had been transformed into a Himalayan snow leopard:

"I drew my right hand close. I made a fist – half a fist, at least. I found black pads nearly hidden in fluffy white fur, and the tips of sharp yellow nails. The mitten did have a thumb, like a fat tick with its own little fishhook of a claw.

"I twisted over and pushed myself up with my mittened hands. I looked back along my right side. An expanse of slush gray and ivory white fur. A thick haunch and a double-jointed leg. A curve of black-white tail, more thickly furred at the tip than at the base.

"I wheezed with a scrape like a cross-cut saw. I tried moving my foot. A white hind paw kicked at the pink rug."

* * * * *

. . . And now whoever, whatever is behind these bizarre events has focused its attention on me! My imaginary childhood playmate has returned from Limbo to help me, but I don't find that very reassuring:

“'Chester!'

"I didn’t recognize the voice. I was still asleep enough that this didn’t bother me.

"'Come on, Mate, we haven’t much time!'

"I was pulled to a sitting position on the couch. I even felt a couple of pats to the cheek. I opened my eyes angrily.

"I focused on a muzzled face of the palest tan, with whiskers and a harelip, big brown shiny eyes, and long, donkeylike ears that poked up through the brim of an Australian ranger hat.

"A chocolate-brown paw clamped over my mouth just as I tried to scream. The marsupial had quite a grip – yes, my rude awakener was Mr. Kangaroo, unseen lo, these many years."

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All this and more awaits you in Endangered Species: The Ultimate Alpha Volume One. If we survive long enough to publish it!

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